Until he began complaining of pain the night before Mom and Dad were supposed to bring us out to Montana in November, no one, no one at all, had any idea What Lay Beneath. The x-rays he had the next morning, (instead of driving through Nevada), turned up an abscess, and at last showed that one of his tombstones had some serious issues. Besides a prescription, there was nothing they could do for him that day, and told us to follow up with his new dentist out here.
We didn't actually have a dentist yet, but nothing like an oral emergency to speed up the process. Our new dentist, Dr. Burke of Williston, said that Damon's condition was so rare that in more than 30 years of practice he had only seen it for himself one other time. He had the skills to fix the tooth but not the tools, so he referred us to an endodontist in Bismarck. Which is how we came to be cruising down the highway long before sunup.
In all honesty, it's not as hard as you might think to leave before daybreak this time of year, since sunrise is at almost 8:00 am, but still, we left pretty early. And as soon as it had reached a decent hour in California, we called Dad to sing Happy Birthday.
The first leg, due east across the top of the state, was foggy, but with a great tailwind. As soon as we veered southeast toward Minot, the wind became brutal, finding every crack in the car. With plenty of fog left, the wind carried tons of snow across the road in a low river. Except for a few drifts it kept right on going, but it's always hard to steer a straight course with a steady stream continuously crossing your path. It's like walking through one of those spinning tunnels at the fair. Add in a sun dog that lasted for miles, and you've got a pretty good idea of our trip down.
Tiggy held the GPS much of the way, and kept getting irritated. "Mom, it shows that there's a lake here, but there isn't. Where are the lakes?" Finally, we swooped down into a valley filled with a huge lake. "Do you see it, Tiggy? There's the lake?"
She squinted out the window. "Where? I still don't see it." Sigh. "It's all around us. Do you see that giant, flat, white, frozen area with NOTHING ON IT??? That is the lake!"
I'm not sure if she's convinced even yet. I'll have to take her back in the springtime.
The visit to the endodontist was a success, though we got the rather startling news that it was going to be the first of two visits. With plenty of Taco Bells around, and the office right across the street from a thrift store, I wasn't complaining.
What I didn't like were the roads. Choked with snow, the wide city streets had narrowed to two or three nebulous lanes. Dotted lines, or markers of any kind, were nonexistent. There were tire tracks all over in the ice, but that was about it. And even though it seemed to be a create your own lane kind of system, I apparently picked the wrong one (or two), and got honked at!
At last, at last, at last, after many hours and 265 miles, it was time for the highlight of the trip: Taco Bell! We about went crazy ordering. It was by far my most expensive Taco Bell trip ever, even allowing that we ordered enough extra for supper. Can you tell the kids were excited?
In the big city, we found that our big piles of snow back home were actually pretty paltry. After we got all our food, the kids went for a romp on one of the gargantuan mountains that dotted nearly every parking lot for miles. I wish we'd brought the sled.
I had just a little trouble with the route back, and we came the long way through Williston. But all's well that ends well, and we did eventually arrive at home.
And ate bean burritos for several days.
Until the next adventure,